European Union outsider Norway has been named the most prosperous country in the world for the seventh year in a row.
Norway has come out top because of the freedom offered to citizens, the quality of its healthcare system and social bonds between its people, according to The 2015 Legatum Prosperity Index.
The index was published on Monday, less than a week after David Cameron launched his most open defence to date of his country remaining in the EU, telling Eurosceptics that Norway was no model to emulate.
Switzerland was ranked second overall, while Denmark ranked third, New Zealand fourth, Sweden fifth, Canada sixth, Australia seventh and the UK down in 15th.
The index, compiled by London-based think-tank the Legatum Institute, ranks 142 countries across eight categories: the economy, entrepreneurship and opportunity, governance, education, health, safety and security, personal freedom, and social capital.
The UK has slipped from 13th last year, but the country's economic performance has outstripped all major European Union countries and is now one of the best places in the world to start up a business.
Government policies aimed at getting people into work in the wake of the financial crash have led to 'incredible' results, according to the institute.
Nathan Gamester, programme director of the prosperity index, said: 'Britain's real success has been its recent economic transformation. Since the financial crash, the Government has prioritised getting people into work.
'And the results - seen in the 2015 Prosperity Index - are quite incredible. The UK is growing faster in the economy category than any other major EU country.
'The gap in full-time employment between the richest and poorest 20 per cent of the country has halved since 2009. This is the biggest turnaround of any major developed economy.'
Speaking in parliament last week, the British Prime Minister said he would 'guide very strongly against' seeing Britain's European future being akin to that of Norway, a successful economy that exists closely with, but outside the bloc.
'Some people arguing for Britain to leave the European Union... have particularly pointed to the position of Norway saying that is a good outcome,' Cameron said.
'Norway actually pays as much per head to the EU as we do, they actually take twice as many per head migrants as we do in this country, but of course they have no seat at the table, no ability to negotiate.'
Norway has rejected EU membership in referendums twice. Along with Iceland and Lichtenstein it has a European Economic Area agreement that gives it access to the bloc's single market.
But in exchange it accepts the EU's principles of freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and people as well as rules governing, among other things, employment law and competition. It also contributes hundreds of millions of euros to the EU budget.
Although Norway, Denmark and Sweden rank in the top 10 most prosperous, the index found that many of the Nordic economies are struggling to create jobs.
In Sweden, unemployment is 7.8 per cent, the figure stands at 9.4 per cent in Finland and 6.3 per cent in Denmark.
Across the five countries, the employment rate is only 59.3 per cent, compared to the US and the UK where unemployment is 5.5 per cent and 5.4 per cent respectively.
The index found the least prosperous countries in the world are in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Central African Republic ranks worst for the second year in a row.
Six of the bottom ten countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa, however many countries in the Middle East also perform poorly.
Afghanistan is ranked second from bottom at 141st, Syria stands at 136th and Yemen is ranked 135th.
In its wider analysis, the institute raises the alarm about the vulnerability of some countries to the Islamic State terror group by comparing its latest findings with records relating to Syria and Iraq before the advance of the jihadis.
Tunisia and Morocco are both flagged up as high-risk countries.
'Given recent attacks in Tunisia, this is probably not surprising, but the trend in Morocco will concern European governments given its geographic proximity and popularity among holidaymakers,' the report states.
According to the think-tank, Singapore is the most successful economy in the world with the second highest capital per worker.
Canada has been dubbed the freest country, having risen five places to first on the personal freedom sub-index.
The country is the most tolerant of immigrants in the world - 92 per cent of people think the country is a good place for migrants.
Canada, Norway, New Zealand, Iceland and Ireland were ranked as the five most tolerant countries towards migrants. Meanwhile, the UK stood at 17th.
People in the majority of countries in Latin America do not feel safe, or trust their government or the law, according to the Legatum Institute.
Only 22 per cent of people in Venezuela feel safe walking alone at night — the lowest in the world.
Mr Gamester added: 'The Prosperity Index tells us that human progress goes beyond economics.
'Norway and other countries at the top of the index provide opportunity and freedom to their citizens, access to quality healthcare and education, and provide safe environments for people to flourish in.
'By contrast those countries or regions of the world where people feel unsafe, where they are forced to flee from their homes, and where the education and healthcare systems are failing do not provide prosperity to their citizens.
'Sadly this year the Prosperity Index reveals that the world is becoming an increasingly dangerous place.
'A dramatic decline in safety and security in Africa and the Middle East threatens to undermine prosperity across the world.'